Royal Navy U23s Begin Inter-Services Campaign
This Friday, the 16th of November will see the Royal Navy U23s begin their 2012 Inter-Services campaign in earnest, with the "Young Tyros" of the Senior Service facing their ‘Light Blue' counterparts from the Royal Air Force under floodlights at Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, the home of Navy Rugby.
This season has been a relatively short one by typical Navy U23 standards, with fixtures against a Chichester RFC Select XV with Oxford and Cambridge Universities providing testing opposition for the Navy. These games provided an ideal opportunity for the coaching team of Captain (Scott) Ashley (NCHQ), WO1 (Billy) May (HMS Nelson) and PO (Kai) Blackett (HMS Defender) to take a good look at the abilities of their young charges.
The demands of the Commonwealth Cup have also featured large on the Autumn Navy Rugby calendar, and the U23s made a significant contribution to the Senior XV squad that headed down under to battle it out with their long-time adversaries from the Royal Australian and Royal New Zealand Navies. With the RN recording its 6th consecutive win in the Commonwealth Cup, it was heartening to see 6 members of the current U23 squad acquitting themselves with distinction. Avid followers of Navy rugby will also have recognised a further eight individuals from the U23 sides of former seasons; proof indeed that the squad is a fertile breeding ground for the future stars of Navy rugby.
The RAF U23s have faced challenges of their own this season, with only one real opportunity to get their squad together for a fixture against a Cambridge University U21 XV. However, one of the endearing features of the Inter-Services championship is that previous form can often be blown out of the water on the day, and when it comes to it, the games are there to be lost or won on the basis of skill, teamwork and an absolute determination to beat your Inter-Service rivals.
In this day and age of increased ‘Jointery' with all 3 services working together in operational theatres across the globe, there remains a fierce sporting rivalry between all three services and the game this Friday looks set to be a contest worthy of this tradition. With the RAF having beaten the RN at RAF Cosford last year in a tight match (10-9), the Navy U23s will be keen to redress the balance this year at Burnaby Road before travelling to Aldershot garrison the following week to take on the Army U23s.
Kick off this Friday at Burnaby Road is at 7pm and all are warmly welcomed to the home of Navy Rugby. You can also follow the match on Twitter@RNrugby